If you like in the UK, you've probably heard of Tom Kerridge - possibly because his pub, The Hand & Flowers, is the only one in the UK with two michelin stars, but more likely because his new BBC programme (Proper Pub Food) is essentially the best thing that's ever been on TV. Except Bake Off. Obviously. Kerridge is this utterly delightful man who so appeals to my hobbit-y nature: both because he's from Gloucestershire (like me!) & therefore sounds like one, but mostly because all of his food is indulgent, seasonal and heart warming. It also invariably comes in very large portions. My kinda guy. Everything he makes seems that have me & my housemates groaning with delight, and in his first - or possibly second - episode he featured fried chicken in a basket, and I've not been able to think of anything else since. So, when I went to the farmer's market last week & they were selling 3 chicken thighs for £2, I knew precisely what to do.
I've never deep fried anything before & was pretty daunted by the prospect, but it ended up being a fair bit easier than I imagined, and the results were amazing. I'm kind of annoyed at myself for making it, because now I'm not sure I'll ever want anything else. The outside is crisp & crunchy without being tough, and you can taste each spice and herb with every bite. As a warning, this recipe uses a lot of herbs & spices, but there's nothing particularly unusual & I expect you'll already have most of them in your cupboard. If not, spices & herbs are always a good thing to invest in, because once you've got them you can make this recipe over and over again for hardly any money at all. Also, since when has the phrase "lots of herbs & spices" every been a bad thing?! That said - if you don't like very spicy things, feel free to reduce the paprika measurements down to teaspoons instead of tablespoons.
I haven't had fried chicken in years, but from what I remember of KFC... Man, it just doesn't even come close. This is big, flavourful food which is an adventure to make & a delight to eat, perfectly spicy and smoky and, well, can I say finger lickin' good...? I can't wait to try more of Kerridge's recipes, because if they're anything like this, I should be the size of a house by Christmas. Yay!
This recipe provides a great way to use up the cheaper pieces of chicken, like thigh or wing. You'll want about 2 chicken pieces per person, so, feeding 3, I used 6 chicken thighs. If you were feeding 4 (i.e. using 9 thighs) you probably wouldn't need to increase the other measurements at all, but if you were feeding more than that you'd probably want to add a little more of the flours & spices. If less, you'll decrease. Okay? Okay. So, to feed 3, you will need:
- 6 chicken pieces.
- 100g plain flour.
- 50g corn flour.
- 500ml buttermilk.
- 2 teaspoons of dried oregano.
- 2 teaspoons of chilli powder.
- 2 teaspoons of dried sage.
- 2 teaspoons of dried basil.
- 2 teaspoons of dried marjoram.
- 2 teaspoons of ground white pepper.
- 4 teaspoons of salt.
- 2 tablespoons of paprika.
- 2 tablespoons of smoked paprika.
- 2 teaspoons of onion salt.
- 2 teaspoons of garlic salt.
- About 500ml of sunflower oil - or however much will fill up your pan to about halfway.
1. The night before - or at least 12 hours before - place your chicken pieces in a container and cover them with buttermilk. Leave to soak in the fridge until you're ready to cook.
2. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
3. Mix together your flours, herbs & spices in a large bowl.
4. Heat your oil in a large frying pan over a high heat, until bubbling.
5. Take your first piece of chicken & try to shake off as much of the buttermilk as possible - though this probably won't be a lot, as it does tend to stay on there.
6. Roll the chicken in the flour mixture, coating it as evenly as possible - but don't worry if there are white patches. This isn't KFC, this is normal.
7. Place your chicken into the hot oil.
8. Using tongs to turn it over, fry the chicken until the outside is golden brown on both sides & the meat is turning white. This should take about 2 minutes on either side, though it'll take less time as you keep going and as the oil gets hotter and hotter. Though Tom suggests doing two at a time, I just did one at a time to keep it simple - and it's very important not to overcrowd the pan. Plus, you're cooking the chicken in the oven afterwards, so don't worry about the first ones getting cold.
9. Once your chicken looks like the above picture on both sides, take it out of the pan & leave to drain on a piece of kitchen paper. I should point out here by the way that the above pictures were taken by my marvellous housemate Rosa, since my hands were too covered in the flour/buttermilk mixture to even attempt picking up my camera.
10. Just keep going!
11. You should end up with six chicken pieces all relatively similar in colour draining on the kitchen paper. Some will be blacker than others & some will have patches of white where the coating didn't stay on, but this is all fine. Anybody who managed to get a completely even coating & a completely even colour on every piece would be a miracle worker, and probably not to be trusted.
12. Transfer the chicken into a roasting tin & place in your pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes. If you can cut into the chicken & the juices run clear, then you're fine - if not, pop it in for another 5 minutes or so until they do, but between the frying & the roasting 15 minutes should be plenty.
I served mine with coleslaw (which I strongly recommend), spicy wedges & salad - just to make myself feel a teeny bit better about my giant plate of fried goodness. I served it to my housemates & it went down a storm, so I'd thoroughly recommend this if you've got non-vegetarian folk to feed because I can't imagine anyone with tastebuds not liking it. A+, Mr Kerridge. A+.